More Bulacan residents to be served bv water firm: SMC’s Ramon S Ang

SAN MIGUEL CORP. President and COO Ramon S Ang

By Melandrew Velasco

BALIUAG, Bulacan – By now everyone knows there’s no stopping San Miguel Corporation from pursuing its infrastructure projects.

After San Miguel Corporation subsidiary Luzon Clean Water Development  Corporation  (LCWDC) started operations of its  Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project (BBWSP) Stage one in January 2019 and Stage two in April 2019, it is now  ready to undertake Stage 3 after MWSS approved  LCWDC updated business plan.

The water districts that will benefit from BBWSP’s Stage 3 are Baliwag, Hagonoy, Norzagaray, Pandi, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, and San Rafael, after agreements have been signed with the respective water districts. This will bring the total coverage to 20 areas in 2023.

“We are targeting start of operations by January 2023. With these agreements signed with the seven water districts, and with the MWSS having approved the updated business plan, we can now start preliminary engineering design, and then construction,” said SMC President and CEO  Ramon S. Ang.

The Updated Business Plan was approved on 26 August 2021, ahead of the 45-day milestone period required by the CA for MWSS to notify LCWDC of its decision that is due 28th August 2021. The MWSS Board’s approval of the UBP signals that the water districts will continue to pay low tariffs, resulting in low end-user fees for the Bulacan residents.

LCWDC submitted its proposed Updated Business Plan and Financial Model to MWSS on 15 July 2021 which covers the technical, financial and operation aspects of BBWSP Stage 3. A UBP Review Committee (URC) was immediately created by MWSS Chairman and OIC Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco to ensure that LCWDC’s future directions and priorities are in consonance with the BBWSP concession agreement.

“We have to ensure that the Updated Business Plan with its strategies benefits the consumers, the people of Bulacan,” MWSS Chairman and OIC Administrator Velasco said.  A thorough review was conducted by the URC on the investments for new assets to be developed, cash requirements to meet operational investments and cost-cutting strategies for the entire project life cycle.

According to Velasco, the MWSS Board was concerned with the improvement of quality of life and the assurance of continued water supply even during calamities.  “We also looked at the issue of   environmental protection, given that the groundwater resources in the service area have already been depleted,” he added.

Since the 1920s, Bulacan has been the backbone of the MWSS water supply as the province hosts the Ipo and Angat Dams but was not benefitting from these until the Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation became the third MWSS concessionaire.

The municipalities of Bulacan already benefitting from BBWSP  are Balagtas, Bocaue, Marilao, Meycauayan, Obando and San Jose Del Monte (stage 1); and Bulakan, Calumpit, Guiguinto, Malolos, Paombong, Paridel and Sta. Maria (stage 2).

“With more residents able to immediately access water through our facilities, the need to rely on dwindling groundwater supply is eliminated. Experts have said groundwater extraction is one of the causes of land subsidence, or the gradual sinking of the ground, and this worsens flooding in the province. Like our upcoming major clean up of Bulacan’s rivers, the BBWSP forms part of our larger strategy to help mitigate and solve flooding here,”  Ang said.

The Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project produces an average volume of 160 million liters per day for around 165,000 households, and has a maximum capacity of 388 million liters per day.

BBWSP is considered the first major water infrastructure project to be completed under the Duterte administration even if the project broke ground before Duterte’s presidency as it really did not take off that time. BBWSP addresses the water supply requirements of the water districts in the province of Bulacan,

The BBWSP Stage 3 has the following components:

BBWSP Stage 3(a) projects for the water districts of Norzagaray, Pandi, Hagonoy, Baliuag, San Rafael, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel):

  1. a) Stage 3(a)1 Component (Pipe Conveyance Extension (Accelerated Stage 3 System)) – composed of extension lines 400mm to 600mm diameter to be connected from the existing Stage 1 and 2 systems and construction of pumping station to provide supply to Pandi and Hagonoy (both of BBWSP Stage 3(a), as well as augmentation of the supply to Sta Maria (Stage 2) and Bocaue (Stage 1) Water districts.
  2. b) Stage 3(a)2 Component (Norzagaray System) – construction of 10 MLD Norzagaray Modular Water Treatment Plant inside the MWSS Bigte Compound with pipeline connection to existing waterline to supply the beneficiary barangays of the Municipality of Norzagaray.
  3. c) Stage 3(a)3 Component (Angat-Bustos Water Supply System) – construction of an initial 50 MLD water treatment plant, expandable to 100MLD, at San Rafael, Bulacan, that will abstract raw water downstream of Bustos Dam, as well as pumping station and around 34 km of primary pipelines ranging from 500mm to 1100mm diameter

Stage 3(b) Additional water supply to meet the demand of Stages 1 and 2

Stage 3(c) Additional water supply from Bayabas-Maasim System to meet the demand of Stage 3(a) and the remaining municipalities of Bulacan